SOUTHINGTON — The town ordinance review committee on Wednesday postponed a decision on a possible new local law that called for fines of up to $1,000 for putting garbage in recycling bins.
Committee members said they’re sympathetic to the goal of keeping trash out of the recycling stream but felt better information, and not punitive measures, is the way to achieve it. The ordinance was suggested by state environmental officials.
“If anything there needs to be education. I’m not sure a $1,000 fine is going to do it when people don’t know what they should be doing anyway,” said Cheryl Lounsbury, committee chairwoman.
The ordinance came from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Town Attorney Carolyn Futtner contacted the town’s eight trash haulers and researched the topic before Wednesday’s meeting.
She said AJ Wallinger, owner of AJ Waste, said the state already regulates the industry and he felt a municipal rule was unnecessary. Futtner also said that the fines would apply to either businesses or residents.
The committee unanimously tabled the suggested ordinance.
“I don’t want to throw it out until I understand a little bit more about imposing punitive measures on folks who are just confused like I am,” said Victoria Triano, also a member of the Town Council.
The committee on Wednesday also considered a ban on plastic bags suggested by Town Council Chairman Chris Palmieri after hearing from a town resident. That issue was also unanimously tabled.
Lounsbury said the General Assembly may pass a ban, which would supersede any town ordinance.
“I think this also needs to be tabled until we see what’s going on at the state level,” Lounsbury said.
Patricia Queen, also a Board of Education member, said plastic bags are one of the things that are incorrectly left in recycling bins, causing problems at recycling facilities. Better education could solve some of the problems associated with plastic shopping bags, which she also acknowledged are an environmental concern.